Tiki Barber: It’s All About The Benjamins and Not About The Sport
Tiki Barber couldn’t have picked a worse time to come out of retirement.
- He’s 36 years old come April. In football years, that’s just about retirement age.
- All indications show that there is going to be a football players strike later in the year, putting the kibosh on any quick pick-up even as a third-stringer.
- His reputation precedes him as someone who just out for Tiki Barber and who is not out for the team or the sport.
Because even if Barber was under consideration by a team, it certainly wouldn’t be the New York Giants. I’m sure that if he hadn’t burned his bridges with the organization, they would have taken pity on him and brought him back. Instead, the arrogant twit got on his high-horse during his stint at NBC Sports, and used his perch to piss on former teammates like quarterback Eli Manning, and to criticize his head coach, Tom Coughlin. People develop long memories after disses like that. After he suggested that Coughlin was “in a crisis” last year when the Giants started out the season badly, winning only one game out of three, Barber was publicly booed at The Meadowlands during a “Ring of Honor” ceremony three days later. The guy is simply not loved.
And then for dissed and dismissed women all over the country, there is payback. Tiki Barber divorced his Asian American, college sweetheart wife, Ginny, while she was pregnant with their twin daughters, to continue his affair with a former NBC intern, the now-24 year old blonde, Traci Lynn Johnson, (Twin brother Ronde Barber of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers also has an Asian American wife.) Apparently this affair had commenced after Johnson, the family babysitter and daughter of one of his neighbors, had asked Barber to sweeten her application to work at NBC with a letter of recommendation. That’s the official story. Or perhaps he was boinking Johnson even before the application came about, and this was their plan all along to take it off campus when he left the Giants to work in Manhattan.
At any rate, Barber was a washout at NBC, and the feud that he had started with his former team, and by extension, the fans, did not help. He was told that his $300,000 per year contract was not going to be renewed. Then when news of his impending divorce and affair with the intern blew up in the gossip columns, NBC utilized its morality clause in their contract with Barber to terminate him. Result, no more $300,000 per year. Barber was so broke, it was said, he couldn’t afford the divorce settlement with Ginny, who during her labor had barred him from the delivery room. Tiki Barber thus joined the trifecta of cheating celebrity husbands last year, along with Tiger Woods (who hasn’t yet regained his A game) and Jesse “Nazi Lover” James.
Tiki is different from his twin brother Ronde. Still with Tampa Bay and still with his Filipina wife, Claudia, Ronde has been a consistent, loyal and respected player, and will be returning for what will be his 15th year with the team. Unfortunately, Tiki’s using his brother’s example to get a leg up on his collapsing fortunes. I think that’s sad and pathetic.
Fast forward to Tuesday when Barber’s agent, Mark Lepselter, announced the 35-year-old had filed papers with the league office to come out of retirement and attempt to revive his football career.
“After seeing my brother still have fun at our age, it reignited the fire. I’m really looking forward to the challenge of seeing if I can get back to the level of where I was,” Barber told FOXSports.com exclusively. “I started working out again recently. It kind of shocked myself. I still had a lot of the strength I had before. I’m really looking forward to making a return.”
In case you don’t speak B.S., let me translate for you: “I’m coming back to the NFL because my ex-wife is going to clean me out in court and I’m broke. Broke, I tell you. B-R-O-K-E.”
There’s also every indication that Barber’s relationship with the reviled Traci Lynn Johnson will turn out to be more of a millstone around her neck rather than his. Especially since he’s broke. By now, keeping that relationship or even formalizing it may be about pride for him and not necessarily about love. Citizen Kane taught me that long ago; it’s a story about a man who lost his moorings. Given half the chance, and with the benjamins, you bet that Barber would eventually creep on Johnson.
Speculation is rife about who would be willing to take a chance on Tiki. Some sports columnists from other cities are taking a hint from Antonio Pierce and are publicly suggesting that their teams don’t take him. From Gary Myers at the New York Daily News:
BUCS: Tampa would become the new City of Brotherly Love if Tiki joins Ronde. But this is a young team – rookie LeGarrette Blount was the leading rusher with 1,007 yards and 5.0 average – that might not be interested in a 36-year old.
LOCOS: That’s the UFL Las Vegas Locomotives run by former Giants coach Jim Fassel. Even out of the game four years, Barber would be an upgrade.
BRONCOS: Couple of former Giants assistants – head coach John Fox and RB coach Eric Studesville – could make for a nice reunion. Maybe Tiki can play QB – he throws it better than Tim Tebow.
REDSKINS: Clinton Portis is gone and Mike Shanahan’s leading rusher is Ryan Torain. Barber and Donovan McNabb would mean a newsy locker room.
SAINTS: Sean Payton, another ex-Giants assistant, had major RB problems last year and Barber could help as good situational back if Reggie Bush gets hurt again.
Columnist Myers added that the personnel director for the Buccaneers thinks that putting the twins together at Tampa Bay might ultimately be a bad idea for Ronde, who would be upset to see his brother cut from the team if he does not perform up to expectations. Ronde, whose $4 million dollar contract is only for one year, may also want to retire on a good note and with as little drama as possible.
It would be interesting to see what becomes of Tiki Barber. His is a sobering, cautionary tale. If I were him, once he did get a contract, if any, I would definitely look into other professions other than broadcasting or sports to make his living, and ask for a reprieve from Ginny Barber’s lawyers. Otherwise, it’s karma; what comes around, always goes around.